NBA Playoffs Blazers Suns Game 5: Suns no longer messing around, we think, maybe

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You know what so many playoff series come down to? Inevitabilities. It’s inevitable that Denver’s chaotic group of misfit toys will all turn around and fire on themselves at some point. It’s inevitable that the Celtics’ age will become a non-cliche’d, genuine liability against the brand new supercomputer of the moment. It’s inevitable that the Suns’ inability to produce stops in key situations will be their downfall.

It’s also, as the Portland Trail Blazers found out tonight in their 107-88 loss to the Phoenix Suns, inevitable that the Suns offense will have a night where it just completely overwhelms you. Tonight was the night that inevitability came home to roost for the Blazers.

Check out the box score. It’s all there.

Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t have playoff career highs. But moreso than any game in this series, the pick and roll was there. They fronted, Amar’e feigned. They posted, he spun. They trapped Nash, he lobbed. And when that component opens up, you adjust. Which means somewhere, someone is open on the perimeter. Channing Frye? Jared Dudley? They were someone tonight.

Frye was due for a game like this, and lit it up. Drive and dish catch and shoots. Transition trailer. Double perimeter rotation. Open, good looks, with a Blazers team that was too busy trying to understand why it was running so hard to understand where it should be running. And with Brandon Roy looking like a guy who had knee surgery 10 days ago, the Blazers now face an elimination game in Portland.

You have to accept a game like this. It’s going to happen under the circumstances the Blazers are operating. But if they want to win this series, they’d better hope it’s the last one.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.

LeBron James: Reporter warned me about question on Gregg Popovich’s wife before live TV interview

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In her on-court interview with LeBron James following the Cavaliers’ Game 2 win over the Pacers last night, TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce asked him about the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife.

LeBron appeared emotional as he gathered his thoughts.

That prompted some to criticize LaForce for ambushing LeBron on a sensitive subject on live TV. But that’s not what happened.

Uninterrupted:

LeBron:

I’m not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends through texts that a question was asked to me postgame, and a lot of people feel I was blindsided. That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask the question and if it was OK.

And once I started talking about it, once we were on air, actually my emotions kind of took over. And that was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich.

It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers, once again goes out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base.

And also guys, please get off Allie LaForce’ back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. So, get off her back, man. She’s very professional, and she does a great job at her work.

Like I said, thoughts and prayers to the heavens above. We all know the man above never makes mistakes, even when we question it. But it’s a sad, tragic time right now for the NBA family, and we’re all praying and hoping for the best.

It would have been surprising if LaForce hadn’t done that. Somewhere between nearly nobody and absolutely nobody in her position is trying to embarrass players.

PBT Extra: If Portland is going to turn series around it starts with Damian Lillard

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This was the year the Trail Blazers were going to break through. They were defending better as a team. There was some depth on offense. And Damian Lillard was playing at a level that will get him on many voters’ MVP ballots.

Instead, they are down 0-2 to Anthony Davis and New Orleans, having dropped both games at home to open the series. Portland is on the verge of being bounced in the first round for the third time in four years.

If Portland is going to turn this series around, it starts with Lillard, something I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. C.J. McCollum needs to get more buckets, Jusuf Nurkic needs to contribute more on both ends, but for Portland it all begins and ends with Lillard and it’s on him to start the turnaround.